The Hague

Almost there (Or: Five guys coming to The Hague)

Did you know Five Guys is coming to The Hague? And not five guys, but Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This American chain will be coming to the city centre at Spui 10, just a few doors down from the KFC and near the Centrum tram/bus stop. It is not open yet, but it looks to open any-day-now.

They sell burger, fries, milkshakes, and… wait, beer? That’s quite Dutch and not something you would see in the American locations.

What do you need to know about Five Guys?

  • they have a free-style coke machine for endless drink options
  • the burgers have set prices, regardless of the amount of toppings
  • they offer free peanuts-in-the-shell to eat while you wait for your order

I was excited to see this photo from Marco:

Five Guys construction site in The Hague 2

And this photo is from earlier in the week – more signage is now visible behind the construction walls. They are very close to being done, so hopefully an opening date is announced soon!

With all of the above being said, I can fully see why Amsterdam refused to give Five Guys a license to open there (article in Dutch). Amsterdam is trying to reduce the amount of fast food options, not expand them. It’s possible that Five Guys can adapt their concept to better qualify (more seating, no counter service, more time to eat) but even that isn’t a guarantee.

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Categories: Food, The Hague | 2 Comments

SUN! and music (Or: Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague)

The Netherlands is enjoying a rare dose of sun this weekend! And like all good Dutchies, this means going outside to a café or restaurant and baking under the sun for a few hours.

Flowers at the Hof House in The Hague

Flowers at the Hof House https://www.hofhouse.nl

This afternoon Marco, Roger and I went to the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague. Bevrijdingsdag, or Liberation Day, is celebrated on May 5 each year. The day commemorates the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. The day before, May 4, commemorates the Remembrance of the Dead.

Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

One of the music stages at the festival

Bevrijdingsfestival music in The Hague, 2018

Another music stage, in the background. The woman in yellow is receiving a ‘Dutch kiss’ (the custom where you kiss each other on the cheek three times to say hello or goodbye).

Vrijheid display at the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

Vrijheid = Freedom

And do you see what the letters are made of, above? Juliper beer crates! (Juliper is one of the sponsors of the event.)

Now if you excuse me, I will go back to basking in the sun…

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King’s Night and Day (Or: Carnivals, festivals, and more)

The Netherlands celebrated the five year reign of Willem-Alexander Thursday night and Friday, with King’s Night and King’s Day. I can’t believe it has been that long. I still remember seeing the live, breaking news of Princess Beatrix abdicating the throne (video with English subtitles). I had barely been in the Netherlands a month, and was watching the news without having a clue what she was saying. There are no subtitles on live TV unfortunately…

First, we’ll start with the carnival at the Malieveld which is held every year around this day:

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day

I could probably handle this ride.

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day 2

Nope. Won’t be going on this one. It was pretty cool to watch though.

And then you had The Life I Live festival in The Hague, held every year on King’s night. A dozen or so music stages are set up throughout the city centre.

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague

A smaller stage

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague 2

Here is a much larger set up, at Het Plein (literally ‘the plaza’)

Buitenhof fountain during King's Night in The Hague

The fountain at Het Buitenhof, with the Ferris wheel from the previously mentioned carnival at the Maliveld in the background

Tram on King's Day, The Hague

And finally, a historic tram passing by during King’s Day on Friday

I still need to buy something orange for King’s Day. I’ve managed to not do that in the 5+ years I have been here. Related, amusing blog post about orange clothes and King’s Day: The King Size King’s Day T-Shirt blog post over at the Invading Holland blog.

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Always watching (Or: The Observer by Berry Holslag)

Today’s picture is of the artwork ‘The Observer’ by Berry Holslag. You can find it on Kalvermarkt in The Hague (with the Grote Markt to the left and Primark behind the statue).

The Observer by Berry Holslag, The Hague

The statue was added in 1994. Stroom.nl has more information in Dutch and English. As the website writes – we look at him. But he looks back at us just as closely.

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Voting at city hall (Or: Local elections 2018)

Today Marco and I visited city hall after work to vote for the local elections:

Voting sign in The Hague city hall

To the voting area!

The Hague has 286 places to vote if my math is correct. Unfortunately the Central Library wasn’t a place you could vote this year. You could vote in a special tram (link in Dutch) however. I would have loved that. But it’s not a tram line I’d ever take, and it was running as a normal tram at the time. Imagine missing your stop!

Line of voters at The Hague city hall, 2018

Pictured: about half of the line

It didn’t take us too long – about 10 minutes at the most to get to the front of the line.

Number of voters by hour, The Hague, 2018

Live updates of the percentage of voters who had already voted, by hour

Admittedly, the number of voters is lower than 4 years ago when it was 51% at the close of voting (9pm). As of 8:15pm now it is 45.2%. The results are not expected until around midnight, give or take.

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First time voter in the Netherlands (Or: Local elections tomorrow)

Tomorrow most of the Netherlands goes to the polls for local elections. This will be the first time I can vote in the Netherlands! This is because I have lived in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

Here is a picture of my stempas (voting card) with personal information greyed out:

Stempas or voting pass for The Hague, 2018

The card arrived in the mail a few weeks back, automatically. In the Netherlands every person is required to register with the municipality in the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)  or the Personal Records Database. I did that within a few days of moving to the country. It records life’s big moments – birth, marriage, divorce, and death, along with address changes. The database is used to determine who can vote for what. (In my case, I can vote for the local elections but I will never be able to vote for anything higher unless I obtain Dutch citizenship.)

There are some good sites available for voters, both in English and in Dutch. In this case, I tend to seek out information in English due to the nature of what I am reading, but I also supplement it with information in Dutch. For example, DutchNews.nl has some information and links available for expat voters.

There are, of course, various polls available to see which party matches your interests the best. For example, Stemwijzer Den Haag (knowledge of Dutch required).

Finally, here’s a look at what the ballot looks like.

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A watcher (Or: Statue at the Veenkade)

The great thing about The Hague (and the Netherlands in general) is the random artwork and statues that can be found in the city. Here was a recent photo of mine:

Statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

And here is a close up of the statue:

Close up of the statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

It is on the Veenkade, near De Bieb and the old library, before it moved to the Spui.

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Reester bunny (Or: Chocolate and eggs everywhere)

Today Marco and I went to Kelly’s Expat Shopping here in The Hague. It’s a great store for American and British food and a store I’ve blogged about before. The one thing I get almost every time is Ritz crackers. Yum! Snagged another box today…

I was quite amused by the “Reester bunny” you could buy:

Reese's chocolate bunny (Or Reester bunny)

Their Easter selection is pretty good when it comes to chocolate, I must admit. Lots of Cadbury eggs.

Pop or soda for 10 euros - 12 pack

Did you know it costs 10 euros for a 12 pack of pop/soda? And that’s a discounted price! Back home you could get it for 2/$5 during the right sale. Of course, that’s just how it goes when you’re an expat so far from home.

And here is a fun photo from the Albert Heijn XL on Elandstraat:

Chocolate easter eggs for sale at Albert Heijn XL, The HagueAnyone need any chocolate eggs? There are lots of flavors to choose from… But still, it doesn’t compare to the Reester bunny. Don’t you just want to nibble on those ears?

Categories: Food, Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Screaming kids (Or: A signal that Rutte is near by)

A few weeks ago I was walking in the area of the Buitenhof (Dutch parliament). I heard a bit of (positive) screaming, as if someone had spotted a rock star. I look over but only see a group of school kids on the other side of the road (by the Buitenhof / the lake, where the red line starts). I’m on the other side, closer to Plaats/Museum de Gevangepoort.

View of the Buitenhof in The Hague, Google maps

Strange, I think to myself. I keep walking. The screaming intensifies. I look over again, and realize a few of the kids have broken from the group and are running along the water (towards the yellow star – don’t you love how I annotate a Google Maps photo?).

Obviously I know I am not the cause of their affection, so I glance around again. And then realize the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is walking about 5 meters / 15 feet in front of me. No security to be seen (it’s not like he is Wilders). Cool, I think. I debate grabbing my phone for a photo for the blog, but decide against it. That would be weird.

Now most of the kids are screaming. I see him laugh as he waves to the kids, which only increases their adoration. I remember thinking to myself at least they are smart enough not to dart off into traffic to say hi – they merely keep running on their side of the street to keep up with him.

He then cuts left and crosses the street to their side (brave man) by where the yellow star is and the statue of King Willem II. Rutte is then surrounded by a wall of kids, luckily still tall enough to be seen. He graciously allows his photo to be taken with the group, which cause a final, resounding scream of joy.

I then decide, hey, I want a picture too!

It’s hard to tell because he is wearing a black jacket, but he is at the base of the tree (you can see his face).

School children surrounding Dutch prime minister Rutte.jpg

What surprised me the most was the kids’ reaction for a politician – how happy they were to catch a glimpse of him. But it was fun to experience it.

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Just a bit of snow (Or: Buitenhof in the winter)

The Netherlands has been under a cold spell recently. The wind changed direction and started coming from Siberia. No joke. There was one day with a temperature that felt like -20c (-4f). Brrr! 

But it did bring out some nice photos, including one of mine:

Snow on the Buitenhof, The Hague.jpg

I am happy to report that the wind changed direction on Sunday, so the breeze bit of snow is now gone again. Not that I have anything against snow, but this country definitely doesn’t know how to deal with it.

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